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Need help with $3000 budget.


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#1 Samuel Colclough

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 03:40 AM

Hey Guys. I have read and researched for a while now. I'm already hungry since I started. J/k. I've been thinking about this for a while, but actively researching this notion for over a week.

I am basically going to be living in the same building that I work in, so I decided (probably stupidly, but that's ok) to sell my car. Unfortunatly its a POS and I will be left with 3000$ in cash. Other than that I will probably have 200 or so more, but not really. So...

I edit on a PC, I have a p4 2.3 Ghz ATA setup UGH! I'm going to just give this to my mom. I can set up a nice system that will accomplish my audio/visual N.L.E. needs for JUST under 2000 including tax. (Intel duo2.4Gh 2 340gig SATA fast drives, 2 gigs ram, room for upgrades, etc.) It's of course not the best editing system but it would do a good job for a student like me. So, IF I did that I could immediatly afford at Panasonic PV-GS500 which is consumer grade 3CCD that at least has a manual focus ring. But ugh even as I type that I know I at least want a vx2100, but they are SO expensive, and there at internet websites that advertise them at prices around $1500 us, but I have learned that they are all scams. So, there are a few questions here.

I could get the vx2100 camera now and keep my CRAP computer and not be able to run premiere pro 2 which I already own.

I could get the computer and no camera and (I do work) save up for the vx2100 as well.

I could write to you guys and ask you what to do (I'm choosen this for now).

And last question, either way, can you please recomend where I should purchase my vx2100?

Or should I spend everything I have on an FX1?

I did read AND think about the advice "Just rent it." But, I'm a pretty spontaneous person (I haven't learned to use scripts or shot lists yet [I will.. I hope])

Also I remember the other advice about don't buy the camera with the most features because by the time you even get to them, something new will be out and the one you got will be so much cheaper.

So, that's about it, I tried to cover all the bases. PLEASE help me out. Right now I'm leaning towards the computer and then save up for the vx2100 but can you please tell me how bad that panasonic camera is and tell me where to buy a cheap but complete vx2100?

And, If it makes any difference I am a musician who wants to film his own music videos (not nesc featuring me).

Well, thank you very much for reading and for your knowledge which is boudless and so very helpful.

Thank you,

Sam C
www.69samurai.com
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#2 James McManus

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 09:23 PM

I would suggest keeping the car. You might not need it for work, but are you going to do all of your video productions in that same building? That could get boring fast. Also, what happens when you get an opportunity for a much better job, but it's 10 miles from the nearest bus route? So even if the current car is too expensive to keep and maintain, maybe consider a $1000 beater for emergencies.

Then I would consider a lighting kit. Lights are already basically commodities, so your investment isn't likely to become obsolete next week, and it will add a lot to the quality of your productions. I watched probably 30 minutes of that video you posted and saw a lot of creativity, but it still just looked like any home video in many ways. Creative lighting will help you get much more out of the equipment you already have.

You say you're a musician, so I'll assume you already have some decent audio equipment. Figure out how to make the most of it for your movies.

I wouldn't want to disappoint Mom, but you should also just keep the computer. My computer is slower than yours and it works fine for most things, even HDV editing. Rendering can be slow at times, but it also made me learn some useful tricks that I might not have learned if I had a great computer. More RAM might be a consideration.

And lastly, give yourself a price, maybe $2,000, and buy the best camera you can get when you save up the goal amount. Don't worry about it becoming obsolete. Worrying about that will just either keep you from ever buying anything (there will always be something better next year), or you will always be depressed looking at how much you could have saved by waiting 6 months. Just buy it and use it. The $2-4,000 stuff today is already freak'n amazing. By the time you save up $2,000 you might be able to get an HVX200. Of course there will be something for $4,000 that blows it away, but oh well.

In summary:

Buy a decent lighting kit. Keep the car. Keep the computer. Keep the camcorder. Keep working. Keep filming. Save up for a better camcorder. Then save up for a better computer.

The idea is to spring first for the things that hold their value the longest or might get more expensive over time.

Just my opinion.
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#3 Michael Kernan

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 09:29 PM

I'm still a newbie on the camera side of what you need help on, but I can help you out about the computer.


You can get a powerhouse machine that will do JUST fine for much cheaper than buying it new, if you check out refurbished computers. I got my computer (2 gigs of ram, intel dual core 2.9, GeForce 6800, etc) for 800 bucks and it runs anything that I put on it just fine. I got mine off of Dell's refurbished line and it works fine and everything. Even if you get it and it doesn't work, they will take care of it (even though Dell generally sucks for service, I haven't had any problems).


I hope that helped out a bit.
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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 02:42 AM

When I first started editing on an NLE was in 98 on a 350 AMD K6-II. You will be fine with the computer you have. Right now if you have to focus on any one thing, I would focus on shooting. Get the best camera you can. I would recomend even better than a prosumer camera. Canon just came out with a new HD camera, similar to the GL1 design that are under 4. Even the DVX-100 would suit you better. I bought the original GL-1, which within 6 months the GL-2 came out. That camera still paid for itself several times over. Today it only serves as a playback deck, and a wide camera for certain events. If you land a few freelance jobs you can grow your equipment list a bit(and maybe buy a better car).

I think you should keep the computer, and save a little more to get a better camera, and a beater car. lIghts if your on a budget can be built very cheaply. I made a 1.2K softbox (tungsten, not HMI of course) out of spare parts I found in a warehouse.
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#5 Gavin Greenwalt

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 03:05 AM

Those who are the most involved will be the most successful. Without a car you will be left out. Your friends, classmates, coworkers, parent's friends, guys in bars etc will be the people who will take you to success, and if you can't get to where they are you'll just be at home thinking about making movies.

What if you read in the paper that an independent film is looking for a PA. They aren't going to give you a ride. You'll miss too many opportunities waiting for a friend to pick you up, or a bus to drop by. It's my experience that people who rely on other people for rides will have to take what they can get and are almost always late. You don't want to be "the guy who is always late". You want to be the guy who showed up even though he wasn't invited and carried 80 pounds of gear without being asked up 4 flights of stairs.

Your computer sounds fine, it should be more than fast enough to edit DV in real time. You won't notice the difference from a SATA drive unless it's >7.2k rpm. If you don't have a 7.2k drive go out and buy a 300gb drive from Frys for $89 dollars.

If you can't afford a camera now, use your car to get to film sets. Volunteer, get involved, make connections and use their equipment ;)
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#6 Chris Durham

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 12:38 PM

I think everybody's right about keeping your car. But if you've got alternatives to owning your own car (a partner with one, etc.) and are hell-bent on selling it, there are a couple things to consider.

1) Good Lighting and Good Sound will do a lot for you. A better camera gives you more options and features, but essentially captures the same image.

2) Your PC sounds just fine. Struggling with "technical difficulties" is part of this gig and if it just takes you a little more time to do the same thing you can do on a better device, don't spend money you don't have.

3) Save money on software - use open source "free" software - Linux and Cinelerra can save you a couple grand and if you have a little tech savvy you can get a lot more bang for your buck (I'm building a rockin' NLE box right now for about $1250).

4) If it takes you a little longer to get the camera you want rather than the one you can afford immediately, wait and save (unless it's just way out of range). Write, storyboard, get on other crews, borrow/rent cameras, etc. Equipment, when you can afford it, isn't something you should settle for. Figure out what strata of camera you can afford to aim for (Consumer, prosumer, prosumer hd, pro, etc.) and research in that range. When you figure it out, save for that.

5) Think about what it is you want to do. Rental can be a lot cheaper than purchase. I just made a large purchase, but I'm going to be working on a documentary with at least 30 days of shooting over the next year, and possibly more. It's about break-even with the rental price; plus I'll get to use it on my narrative projects as well. But that's a lot of shooting. Your average feature film will run 3 weeks; so if you shoot 2 of those in video you can justify the investment I just made (about $8500 for camera, lights, sound, and all the fixin's), otherwise rent. Another way to look at it is this. You're shooting Music Videos. Assume $200 per day rental for your camera and it takes 7-8 days of shooting to match the expense of your $1500 camera. That's four or five videos at least, which is quite a bit. Now that $200 per day is for an XL2 or DVX100 which are $3500 cameras and you have the versatility of choosing per shoot. See I spent the money because the consistency matters in a 30-day + shoot. You'll be doing 2 day shoots; and stand a chance to make some money at it along the way. Your advantage over someone like me, too, is that I can't recoup any of my expenses for about 20 months. You should be able to recoup your rental fees at the least - or pass them on to the bands you're shooting.

It's hard for creative people sometimes; but especially as independents, we have to think like businessmen and be very very careful about how we part with our money. Of course, sometimes you have to take a risk - but be smart. Knowing which risks to take can often be what separates the wheat from the chaff in this business. Your question right now is whether the car is the right risk. I think you answered that yourself in the original query.
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#7 Samuel Colclough

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 02:37 PM

You guys are so experienced. Well, I will be living with family who has multiple vehicles, so I think we can factor a lack of transportation out of the equation.

I hear you about the computer just being a luxery while the camera is more important.

Ok, the lighting... I haven't thought/learned much about this yet. I suppose research is more justified than me just asking you to explain it.

Mmmmmmm.

So do you guys recomend against a vx2100 then? I mean do you recomend I save up for an Fx1? I feel that it would be best for me to own a camera, but not nesc an expensive one, so I'm thinking the vx2100. Yes I am stubborn, but I really am trying to listen to what you guys say.

Thanks for bearing with me,
Sam.

Oh yeah and to the individual who watched the 30 mins of my video, Thank you sir! Thank you thank you thank you!!!! Maybe some day you can watch the rest :)

Edited by Samuel Lindley Colclough, 24 October 2006 - 02:38 PM.

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#8 Chris Durham

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 03:43 PM

The thing I'll say about the cameras, and this is a personal preference thing, is that neither of these (vx2100 or FX1) support 24p. This might not be important to you because you intend to shoot Music videos and 24p is more of a cinematic thing. Regarding the FX1, I opted out of HD cams because I don't think the platform is mature in the prosumer market; 1080i will soon be obsolete and I haven't seen any 1080p prosumer cameras; at least not in the price range that is reasonable to me.

Breakdown:

1) HD is still a fairly infant format - not a lot of people have the ability to view in HD.

2) HD will proliferate in the next few years, but 1080p being available now, most will opt for it.

3) Therefore 1080i will be fairly well obsolete pretty soon (within a few years).

4) There will be the introduction of 1080p prosumer devices in the next few years; but...

a) They will be at a higher price point than SD cameras (duh), but not much more than...
B) 1080i cams are now, and their prices will settle to what high-grade SD cams are now; however...
c) By then, if you're worth your salt, you'll be able to afford them (and so will I); but...
d) We'll both be smart enough to rent them instead of buying; or...
e) We'll be working in film and not video.

5) Music Videos will be presented on...

a) DVD = 720 lines, tops; and how much of that resolution is really important in a music video?
B) Web = whatever resolution you pick; or...
c) MTV if you're super lucky, and again, that will mostly be SD.

And you therefore waste the resolution. Unless...

6) You intend to present on film, in which case 1080i will beat SD; but to do that you're jumping a couple tax brackets and I don't think we ought to be talking about <$2000 Cameras.

Conclusion:

If you must buy a camera, go with the SD. It'll be cheaper, teach you the same things, and not be significantly less useful for your purposes than the HD. When you need something better, rent it.

That's just my advice; but I'm not significantly more experienced than you are. I'm pretty new to this; but I've done my homework (and I'm sure the points I've given above will now be ripped apart; but even if the details are off, the point is sensible).

I myself opted to buy the Canon XL-2. It was in the range I could afford for my project, was SD, met my needs, and is a good product. But you really have to weigh the options for yourself. In the end, it all goes on tape, all gets edited in post, and is subject entirely to your ability. To take a musical analogy; I'm always amazed that Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded on a friggin 4-track. Despite what the girls say, it's not what you've got, it's how you use it. And on that note I say Adios.
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#9 Samuel Colclough

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 09:16 PM

Thank you!
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